Activists, lawyers, academicians and many others have written collectively to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) asking it to counsel its own top brass on the law from which it derives its powers as well as international covenants it was created to safeguard instead of issuing orders to ‘identify’ and ‘counsel’ children at the site of anti-CAA protest in Shaheen Bagh here.
“We condemn the blatantly political intervention of the NCPCR in the Shaheen Bagh protests by threatening action against the children of the women protesting there. Many of the undersigned have been regularly joining the protests at Shaheen Bagh and have witnessed the children there firsthand. The children are secure in the company of their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, neighbours and friends. They are not in the least traumatised,” reads the letter, which has urged Chairperson of the NCPCR Priyank Kanoongo to withdraw its orders. The signatories include well-known lawyer Geeta Ramaseshan, writer and women’s rights activist Susie Tharu, film-makers Sherna Dastur and Samina Mishra, All India Democratic Women’s Association, among many others.
Last week, the NCPCR wrote to the District Magistrate of south-east Delhi to instruct police officials to identify children suffering from “mental trauma” due to ‘rumours’ and send them for counselling, while referring to the protest at the Shaheen Bagh. The DM has to submit a report within 10 days of receiving the letter.
The letter cites from rules of the NCPCR to demonstrate that its order contravenes them. As per the rules, the rights’ body must “ensure its work is directly informed by views of children to reflect their priorities and perspectives”.
It adds that it is the NCPCR’s duty to report to higher authorities if children have expressed the fear of loss of citizenship and being thrown into detention camps. Referring to the Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005, which gave birth to the NCPCR, the signatories ask why it did not conduct its own enquiry before writing to the DM.
It also refers to several Sections under the United National Convention on the Rights of the Child, including the right to freedom of assembly, expression and thought to show how the NCPCR has turned a blind eye to the very law it was constituted to protect and uphold.
The signatories have also questioned why the NCPCR responded to an anonymous complaint while its own code of conduct forbids it from doing so. The have also appealed to the DM to meet and allow them to present evidence to bolster their case.